Mental health data sharing in post-pandemic health systems

Open Data Saves Lives
Credit: ODI Leeds, Beautiful Info, TPP

We are thrilled to announce that we at Open Data Saves Lives are working alongside NHS Digital on a new project to map the availability of mental health data across the UK and better understand how it is currently used.

In the context of post-pandemic health systems recovery, we know there are a series of questions that need answering to provide better access to mental health data for public good:
What mental health data is available? How do people currently use it? How do people want to use it? What can we do to make the data more open so that more people can use it? These are just a few of the questions we are hoping to answer through this pilot project with NHS Digital.

During our recent meeting between Open Data Saves Lives and NHS Digital we thought about how to move the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) data towards becoming #RadicallyOpen. Although mental health open data includes monthly, quarterly, and annual aggregated measures - plus dashboards and contextual information - NHS Digital knows there is work to be done in helping people and organisations use the data in a way that is relevant and useful to them.

Firstly, we need to understand what data exists so that we can help NHS Digital on a pathway to becoming #RadicallyOpen. Through a process of data exploration we have started identifying mental health data sets and working out where the data exists. For example, this is the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies database: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/data-collections-and-data-sets/data-sets/improving-access-to-psychological-therapies-data-set/improving-access-to-psychological-therapies-data-set-reports .

Next, we are interested in understanding blockers and enablers to the better, broader, and safe use of mental health data for research, analysis, policy, and programme development. This is where everyone and anyone can get involved. We want to know what would make mental health data more accessible and useful for you.

We welcome input and feedback from a broad range of people working with mental health data - from the health and social care system, the public domain, patient and public representatives, etc. Through this work, NHS Digital are committing to helping people and organisations access and use their mental health data easily, in the open, so the impact generated can be bigger and the focus can shift towards #SaveLivesNotData.

If you currently access mental health data, or you would like to access it but don't know how, join us and tell us:

  • How do you use the data
  • How would you like to use the data
  • How can NHS Digital make the data better, easier, smarter for you to use
  • Who do you want to have conversations with about the data to get clarity and inform your projects or objectives
  • Are your current requirements met? If not, why not?

You can tell us via our Google Doc - adding specific responses to these questions or whatever you think is important to include in a #RadicallyOpen approach to mental health data sharing, add it to the Google Doc.

What next?

This is the first small step we are taking to work on making mental health data open with NHS Digital. We will also be hosting an Unconference in September where we will have an open discussion around this and other important health topics, using the insights generated at the conference to inform what happens next. Register today to receive updates and news ahead of the Unconference.